ZocdocAnswersDo women need pap smears after hysterectomy?

Question

Do women need pap smears after hysterectomy?

I'm a woman in my late 50s who had to get a hysterectomy for uterine cancer several years ago. At the time, my doctor told me that routine pap smears are no longer necessary for me. Is this true? It doesn't seem right, because couldn't I still get cervical cancer?

Answer

The schedule of checking for signs of cervical cancer depends on your age, your medical history, the number of normal pap smears you have had in a row, and if you have any new sexual partners. In your case, I don not think any of this will apply to you because of your hysterectomy. The hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus. For some indications, a hysterectomy removes the uterus, but leaves the cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries behind. In the case of uterine cancer, the cervix is almost always taken with the uterus. If you no longer have a cervix, then you will not need any more screening for cervical cancer. Keep in mind that in some patients with uterine cancer, pap smears are still done on the back of the vagina to look for malignant cells. This is not done in every patient. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with you OBGYN and discuss what preventative screening tests will be necessary for you in the future. Ask if your cervix was removed in your hysterectomy. If it was (as I imagine it was), then you will probably not need any additional Pap smears because without a cervix, you can't get cervical cancer. If it was not removed, then your routine pap smear schedule will depend on the factors mentioned above. Good luck.

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